I came out of the stinky, mountain outhouse just in time to hear the elated shouts of a fellow hiker.
"Let's go stay in Aspen for our anniversary, honey!" Mrs. Henricks said.
"Sounds like a plan, but I'm going to make you work for it."Mr Henricks answered.
"Okedoke" Mrs. Henricks naively answered.
I was not fully prepared for what the "work for it" really entailed. Even when we approached the trailhead to the mountains of Grays and Torreys I was still green as to what it really meant to climb a 14er (that is what a mountain that is very tall is called; the 14 standing for 3 1/5 miles straight up into the sky.) I began the hike in a tank top and thrice rolled up shorts, and returned in my winter hat, gloves, rain coat and shorts pulled down as near to my ankles as they would go. Between wardrobe changes, I sloshed through water, fell through snow, tromped over mud, felt my lungs and calves burn, and basically reached the edge of my physical capabilities to keep moving in a forward manner. I haven't ever done anything harder than what I did on this mountain.
The elevation alone was enough to cause tears and make turning around seem pleasing. Add to that my inexperience with mountain climbing and my desire for more comfort than the outdoors could provide and there I was, a girl that had to reach to the very bottom of her bootstraps in order to keep walking. Slowly, I was beginning to understand the exuberance of the shouting girl 4 miles down the trail. Along the way up to the top, we saw beautiful wildflowers, bedraggled mountain goats, marmits (what the heck is THAT?), pikas (again?? WHAT?) and truly magnificent scenery around us.
About half way up, I felt the urge to give up and sit down. I told Patrick that he could keep going and I would catch him on the way back - nice of me, huh! At that moment, he started counting steps and suggested that we just go 50 more steps and take a break. "Okay - did that feel alright? Keep going? Sure... let's do 50 more. Okay - how are you now?? Can you keep going? 50 more and we will take a break." If my man hadn't helped me with his landmarks, his breaks, his announcements of what was coming up, I wouldn't have made it to the top of either of these mountains.
Because we didn't hike at the normal, suggested times, we truly were the only the ones on the mountain. We felt lucky to have the storm clouds hold out as long as they did before dumping their little, tiny ice pellets on us, late in the afternoon. These ice pellets were small yet quite painful as they smacked against the bare backs of our legs. The wind waited on us until we summited the top of the first peak, then it blew us over to the other peak and hurried us along towards our ascent. By this time, we had consumed all edible treasures that we had brought with us. It was shocking to me how delicious our dried-out raisins and ordinary pretzels were. When you are as hungry as we were, even a regular granola bar takes on gourmet characteristics. After celebrating the conquering of both peaks, we began to make our way down the mountain. At one point, my darling husband questioned whether I was okay with where I was walking.
I answered "Sure, why?" And he said "Oh, just wondering if that 100 foot drop off of snow was bothering you at all". It wasnt until then... I wouldn't have made it across that terrifying spot if it hadn't been for the reason that there was just no other choice but to keep walking.